Masks! Here are my notes:

Masks! Here are my notes:

A lot of people are asking how I’m making my masks. Here’s some information!
(If you’re wondering why I’m making masks? I wrote a post on Medium here, but as far as I can tell it has zero traffic, I should just re-post it on the blog).

The pattern I’m using:

I’m working with the pattern from Craft Passion.
Her blog post about the mask is here: https://www.craftpassion.com/face-mask-sewing-pattern/

Her official YouTube video on making the mask is here:

Here’s another video from someone who is making the same mask but using hair elastics.

I like this pattern because:

  • If fits me (and my family) better than the accordion masks, which gape at the sides and don’t seem to retain their folds after washing. We’ve had good luck with everyone, teenagers and adults, from using the “man” size pattern (we don’t notice any extra problematic fabric). Our faces range from the very round (my head would roll a long way if you removed it from my shoulders) to the very narrow (one of my favorite ways to elicit a laugh and eye-roll out of my husband is to ask him, “Why the long face?”). With all of us, this pattern fits well.
  • There is space for a nose wire (I’m using jewelry wire and some pipe cleaners just arrived), which really helps the fit. Nearly everyone in our house wears glasses, and if the nose wire on this is bent so that it lays flat against the face, and the glasses are placed gently on top of the mask, there is no fogging, hurrah!
  • There is a pocket for an extra filter, which I like since I’m not entirely sure how long the fusible interfacing will remain intact through many washings. The pocket means that at some point you could add a bit of t-shirt, a shop rag, etc.
  • According to this video, this style is more of a “surgical mask”, which she seems to say will protect better than an accordion style.

I’m following the pattern for the most part, except I’ve streamlined some things via my own sewing-by-the-seat-of-your-pants method. Here are some notes:

  • I have an edge stitch footer but I’m not using it, changing feet takes too much time, and I can usually stitch pretty straight.
  • When stitching the sides to create the elastic/strap channel, I just fold the fabric over and zig-zag. I don’t bother with double folding. The zig-zag will likely take more abuse anyway, including the scrunching that will happen at the sides.
  • I edge stitch (using the regular foot) the top and bottom of each mask because it helps it lay flat against the face, but I haven’t been stitching the middle seam as that appears to be mostly decorative. The prototypes I made at the start didn’t seem to benefit any from that line of stitching so I just left it out.
  • I’m using serger thread that I just stick in a measuring cup and thread up through the usual way. I have a Bernina 530 that is one of the most beloved gifts my husband ever gave me, and it makes this easy. Berninas also have monster huge bobbins which means I don’t have to stop that often to re-spool a bobbin. #teamberninaforever
  • For the linings, I was originally using my stash of batiks and nice cottons, but realized I had a bolt of 100% cotton muslin, so I’ve switched to that. Now I’m using the batiks just for the exteriors. I figure if we have to wear masks, we might as well get our art on while we do it.
  • I line ALL pieces with non-woven fusible interfacing, at least until the stuff runs out, after which my shipment of shop towels will likely arrive and I can include one of those as something to put in the filter pocket.
  • I’m using a denim needle, which I had to switch to after two other needles broke. The denim one seems to be holding up just fine.
  • I use pinking shears for the curved pieces instead of snipping.

My order of operations:

  1. Fuse interfacing to the lining fabric and mask exterior fabric.
  2. Cut out all pieces using fussy cutting to maximize the interfacing. I’m trying to cut between 10-20 pieces at a time.
  3. Cut out the nose pieces using a cardboard template I made for this purpose. I’ve got a lot of these.
  4. Ask teenage son to iron all the nose pieces, which he does because he’s awesome.
  5. Stitch all the curved seams on the linings and exteriors.
  6. Use pinking shears on all these curved pieces.
  7. Insert and stitch nose pieces into linings.
  8. Stitch up the sides of the linings to create the pocket piece.
  9. Stitch the linings into the exterior shells.
  10. Stitch the channels on the side (again, using zig-zag, is functional, takes way less time and looks great).
  11. Once I have a big stack of these, iron them all. Ironing gives them a great shape, and really brings the whole pattern together.
  12. Edge stitch the top and bottom.
  13. Cut all the hanging threads (Greg is offering to do this, I love him so).
  14. Cut out a piece of twill tape to use as tie.
  15. Sew twill tape (it’s 1″ so I sew it in half).
  16. Insert twill tape using bobkin.
  17. Cut wire for nose piece, insert into pocket.
  18. DONE! Put it aside and finish the next one.

I do the fusible interfacing as one big step, as well as cutting out all the pieces. Everything else just has to go in order.

Good luck, stay healthy everyone! ❤

The Artist's Box Top

The Artist's Box Top

I made my first test version of the Artist’s Box Top from Artist Made Patterns in a light quilting cotton. It turned out great! Super successful test, will definitely be making more.

I’ve made a couple of these easy t-shirt-like tops before out of wovens from different patterns. Inevitably, even when the pattern was designed for a woven fabric, the fit felt off and the top was uncomfortable. Often the neck hole was way too wide. A neckline for a 2X or 3X person doesn’t have to be two or three times larger than a regular size. The test shirts I made would constantly slide off one shoulder, and the mid-section often felt binding. I would have to yank to keep the shirt on my shoulders and yank to keep it from pinching my middle. Bahhh. No.

Happy to say, this top doesn’t have that problem! I’ve noticed such a big difference in patterns for curvy bodies when the designer is also a curvy person. I wish this wasn’t a thing, but it is. But the pattern isn’t complex at all, it’s dead easy. Just two pieces! Sew them together. For the sleeves and the bottom you just roll up twice, press, and seam. For the neck, you use a half-inch facing. So simple.

I’ve wondered whether a woven top like this, if I found the right pattern, could ever compete with my beloved collection of t-shirts. I love t-shirts but I get tired of how fast they die, and knowing that so many of them are products of fast fashion just makes it worse. Yesterday I tried wearing my new Box Top under a long-sleeved t-shirt, and then under a hoodie. It felt fine! Wasn’t uncomfortable or stiff, didn’t feel too binding. So cool! I bet one of these made out of linen or rayon would feel amazing and drape like a dream.

In the illustration below, you can see that she made an option for a ruffle version. Apparently there’s a nifty dress hack where you just make that ruffle longer, and voila, a dress! I’m going go try that on a dress for my 15-year-old daughter, who really wants a “traipsing dress”. We were talking once about how we love old style country dresses, that “make you want to traipse through the fields collecting flowers”. That’s when we decided to call our future project a traipsing dress. I think this could make a great traipsing dress!